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nounced to the guilty, the vile, and the perishing, that they may be pardoned, renewed, and saved. Were it not for this, the awakened and dismayed sinner might say, “ There is no hope. I have loved sin, and after its pleasures I will go; there is for me no hope of a better world, I will therefore make the best of this.” But hope, my fellow-sinner, there is. It beams forth from the character of Him who has proclaimed himself “the Lord God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness, and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin.” Exod. xxxiv. 6, 7. It beams forth from the face of Him who 6 came into the world to save sinners,” and “to give his life a ransom for many.” i Tim. i. 15; Matt. xx. 28. “ Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” Isa. i. 18. 66 Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts." Isa. lv. 7–9. God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but
have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved.” John iii. 16, 17. Are not announcements such as these most joyous and gladdening to the sinner, who trembles under the accusations of conscience, and anticipates, with consternation, the tribunal of an omniscient Judge? Flee then, 0 sinner, without delay, to the hope. set before thee in the gospel; look by faith to that all-sufficient Saviour who is exalted to the right hand of the majesty on high, for the express purpose of dispensing both repentance and remission of sin. Behold him in the attitude of a pleading advocate; and rest assured that 6 he is able to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.” Heb. vii. 25. Imagine not that there can be any reluctance to accept his advocacy on your behalf, on the part of God the Father. No, it is my delight to assure you, on his own authority, that the God of heaven is “the God of hope,” Rom. xv. 3; and that “he taketh pleasure in them that fear him, in those that hope in his mercy.” Psa. cxlvii. 11. Give him then the glory of this excellency of his character. Pay thine homage to his justice and to his holiness, by the penitential acknowledgment of thy transgressions, and pay thine homage to his love and mercy, by confiding in his disposition to forgive, by relying on his promise of pardon, and by yielding thine agitated heart to the full persuasion, that he can
be just and faithful in forgiving our sins, and in cleansing us from all unrighteousness."
Let me invite your attention,
II. To the considerations by which we should be induced to seek the enjoyment of the pleasures of hope.
Let me be permitted to proceed, first, on the supposition that you have never yet been seriously engaged in this pursuit.
You will not perhaps affirm, either that the object of the Christian hope is in its nature uninteresting, or that the foundation on which it is built is entirely destitute of solidity. Is it not then most unnatural, inconsistent, and culpable, to display habitual indifference and unconcern? When you hear of it, ought you not to desire it; and desiring it, to seek it; and seeking it in the way prescribed, to expect it; and expecting it, to be ever" rejoicing in hope?” Are you prepared to vindicate or to excuse an entire unconcern in reference to the salvation of the soul ? Should you even be willing that it should be generally understood that such is your character? Should you have no disinclination to be singled out from the circle in which you move, as an instance of a human being-of a rational and accountable being--dismissing from his mind, without one anxious thought, all solicitude respecting a future world? Are you not aware that you would at the same time be exhibiting to your inexpressible dishonour, an instance of a human being forgetful of the dig
nity of his nature, and sinking down, by a voluntary degradation, to the level of the brutes that perish? An ancient writer affirms, that hope towards God is the proper characteristic of man; and that he who lives without hope is scarcely deserving of being accounted a man, since he almost places himself in the same rank with creatures devoid of reason. - To live without hope is in truth to live without God, to lead the life of an atheist: and if the practical atheist be not so daring as the speculative and avowed denier of Jehovah's attributes and existence, he is at least far more inconsistent. Let me then beseech you to regard with the utmost dread, every approach to such inconsistency and to such degradation. Are you not conscious of a feeling which impels you to spurn with indignant detestation, every principle which would abandon you to the wretchedness of living without hope and without God? Do you not feel within you aspirings, which render it impossible for you to be satisfied merely to eat, and drink, and die? Are not your capacities of enjoyment fitted for something higher than merely buying and selling and getting gain? Do you not feel a longing after something nobler and better than this world has ever been able to impart? If this desire is not to be satisfied, better would it have been to have had inferior capacities both of knowledge and of enjoyment. If you are not to hope for more of happiness than hitherto you have attained, you know already too
much, by far too much, for your tranquillity. The idea of futurity, of judgment, of heaven, and of hell, will intrude upon the mind; and if for the present these distant realities speak only in a whisper, what will be the tone and emphasis of their voice in the hour of dissolution?
But you admit, I will suppose, the full force of these representations. You admit the iinmortality of the soul, and the importance of its salvation. You only defer the consideration of its claims to a more convenient season. You are adjourning from time to time the great inquiry, without fixing the day of investigation. Were you definitely to propose any day yet future, should it even be the very next Sabbath, you would not be able to resist the conviction of the extreme folly of calculating, with confidence, on the arrival of a day, which may not arrive till you are numbered with the dead. Yet without fixing any day, either nearer or more remote, you are deferring the grand concern from day to day, from week to week, from month to month, and even from year to year! Had the question been asked twelve months ago, Will you for a whole year defer the concerns of eternity, and allow fiftytwo Sabbaths to pass away unimproved? you would perhaps have been ready to say, God forbid! And yet fifty-two Sabbaths have elapsed, and the decision is yet to be made, and the inquiry is not yet seriously commenced, “What must I'do to be saved ?" Acts xvi. 30. If then you believe you have